South Africa is at a crossroads that can either see us rebuilding our country after a decade of capture, or, be drawn backwards to an ethically bankrupt state.
These were the sentiments expressed by a group of organisations – including the SA Communist Party and the Kathrada Foundation – which came together to launch a campaign called Hands Off Our Democracy on Thursday at a briefing in Constitutional Hill.
It was also in response to testimony being given before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture by former president Jacob Zuma who alleged there were spies in the ANC and he tried to discredit the legitimacy of the commission.
Zuma alleged that two ANC leaders – former cabinet minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi and former SANDF commander Siphiwe Nyanda – were spies for the apartheid government.
Zuma said he was speaking out because “I have been provoked to the last degree”.
According to Mapaila, the former president was being “irresponsible and reckless” and trying to cause a diversion to the real task at hand.
“What we then heard [at the commission] was a diversion from the real content and we have then said even this question about allegations of spying we felt they were irresponsible utterances, reckless and not actually even belonging there,” said Mapaila.
Mapaila dismissed Zuma’s allegations as senseless because he appointed the people he claimed were spies to senior positions in his government.
“We are quite shocked that a president who has presided over the ANC, who was deputy president of the country before, would have allowed these comrades to hold senior public office when they worked against the values of this democracy. What kind of a president does not care about the economy?” he asked.
Mapaila said the party was rallying behind Pravin Gordhan in his fight against the Sars rogue unit report by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
“Comrade Pravin Gordhan has been singled out as a stumbling block in the fight against corruption by some of the people in the state-owned enterprises in particular. Even some disappointingly very educated individuals, who are actually feeling that a fight against corruption is a fight against blackness – there’s no black professional who should be proud of corruption.”
He continued to say that South Africans must support Gordhan because if Gordhan falls “we will fall one by one and corruption will not be defeated”.
SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo, reading a joint statement with the Kathrada Foundation, said the two parties refused to allow members of the public to undermine their efforts.
“We will make it clear that we refuse to allow ministers, public officials, whistle-blowers, activists and journalists who speak out against state capture to be targeted, subdued and defamed by political bullies, individuals and entities who seek to undermine their efforts,” the statement said.